For the latest information on COVID-19 travel restrictions please see our Coronavirus FAQs page

Things to do in Sri Lanka

Things to do in Sri Lanka

Located off the southern tip of India, Sri Lanka is the pear-shaped island that has become a dream holiday destination for many. Still in the sweet spot between undiscovered and touristy, expect exquisite beaches, fragrant food and breathtaking natural beauty wherever you decide to explore. Colombo is the first part of Sri Lanka that you’re likely to see, as the country’s main flight hub - Bandaranaike International Airport – is situated nearby. This capital city is the perfect blend of modern buzz and gateway to the past. Elsewhere, the central city of Kandy is as sweet as its name, with tea plantations, lush rainforests and historic Buddhist sites to discover. Prefer to stay near the coast? Galle and Matara offer beautiful long beaches, and Arugam Bay offers heavenly shores that are reminiscent of the best of Bali. From historic wonders to pristine beaches, let your tour of Sri Lanka surprise you.

Call

What are the beaches like in the Sri Lanka?

In one word: paradise. The beaches in Sri Lanka are a heady combination of brochure-beautiful and relatively off-the-beaten track in terms of mainstream tourism. Many luxury hotels and five-star resorts are located in the Galle and Matara regions, as the conditions are perfect for an unforgettable beach holiday on the Indian Ocean; fine, white sand and impossibly blue sea and sky are on the itinerary here. Surfers and beach lovers alike gravitate towards Arugam Bay for its bohemian feel and striking beauty, too. Looking for adventure? Take a train to the northern peak of the island – Jaffna – to discover the breathtaking cliffs and coves for yourself. In the east, the beaches of Pasikuda and Kalkudah are making a comeback after years of being closed to holidaymakers.

Beach
What's it like in the Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka’s culture draws influences from India and Indonesia, as well as echoes of British, Dutch and Portuguese colonialism, whilst maintaining a distinct personality and presence on the world stage. A cricketing nation, Sri Lanka produced Muttiah Muralitharan - arguably one of the best bowlers of all time – and continues to be a force to be reckoned with on the cricket pitch in international competitions. The golden lion on the Sri Lankan flag is a great nugget of knowledge for trivia questions or pub quizzes, as it’s one of a handful of animals that appears on an official country flag. Other notable examples include the Welsh dragon, the Zimbabwe bird and Albania’s double-headed eagle. With Buddhist temples and religious sites, elephant sanctuaries and beach resorts galore, visiting this country is something everyone should experience at least once.

Beach

Sri Lanka Food & Drink

Curry, rice, seafood and spices are the headline acts in the Sri Lankan food scene. The Buddhist influences on this nation mean that much of the food is vegetarian, too. You can’t leave without trying a delicious dhal. Lentils cooked in coconut milk with onions, garlic and fresh fiery chilies are combined with a mouthwatering spice blend to create the dish. The fruits of the sea favour menus in abundance here, and we recommend seeking out a sour fish curry ( ambul thiyal). More appetising that the English translation sounds, this is a dry, tangy curry with a moreish taste. Jackfruit is another popular ingredient in main dishes. If get thirsty while visiting a local market we recommend fresh wood apple juice – it’s a local favourite for a reason.

Beach

Important Information

How long does it take to fly to Sri Lanka? It takes about 11 hours to fly direct from the UK to Sri Lanka.

What’s the time difference between the UK and Sri Lanka? Sri Lanka is 5 hours and 30 minutes ahead of the time in the UK.

What currency do they use in Sri Lanka? The official currency of Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan rupee.

What language do they speak in Sri Lanka? Sinhala and Tamil are the official languages spoken in Sri Lanka.

Beach

Call


Create your own Sri Lanka tour

A breathtakingly beautiful country that’s just waiting to be explored by you! Discover the pristine beaches, jaw-dropping mountain peaks and the wonderful wildlife of Sri Lanka by choosing one of our outstanding tours. Keep it personal with a loved one on a private tour, or join a group of fellow adventurers on a small group tour – each tour can be personalized to your needs for a truly unforgettable experience.

You can see three of our most loved tours below. Don’t forget, our aim is to provide you with your perfect holiday experience, so we can tailor tours to suit you…

Wondering what to see in Sri Lanka? Take a look at our Highlights of Sri Lanka itinerary below for inspiration!

Day 1– Flying from the UK to Colombo, Sri Lanka

Depart the UK on an overnight flight to Colombo

Day 2 – Arrival into Colombo

Late morning arrival. Be met by our English-speaking representative at Colombo airport and be transferred to your hotel in Negombo. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure and dinner at your hotel. Stay at Pledge Scape, Negombo for 1 night on a half board basis.

Day 3 – Negombo, Dambulla, Sigiriya

After breakfast leave for Sigiriya, and on the way stop at the beachside Fish Market where the fishermen lay out their catch of the day to dry in the sun along Negombo’s shores. En route to Sigiriya visit the 1st century Dambulla cave temple with ancient sculptures and paintings of Buddha and various Hindu deities located in five central caves. Arrive in Sigirya, the centre of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, in the afternoon, enjoy free time and dinner in the hotel. Stay at Aliya Resort & Spa, Sigiriya for 2 nights on half board basis.

Day 4 – Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa, Minneriya

Morning departure for the ancient Sinhalese city of Polonnaruwa, once the medieval capital of Sri Lanka and home to the vast man-made reservoir Parakrama Samudra covering over 23km and the outstanding Gal Vihara temple boasting beautiful rock carvings of Buddha. Continue to Minneriya National Park in the afternoon for a safari accompanied by a naturalist. The park is one of the best places to see wild elephants and with scrubland, park and wetlands it also provides shelter for buffalo, sambar deer, toque macaques, crocodiles and leopards as well as attracting a great number of birds. Depending on the movement of elephants the visit may be to Kaudulla or Eco Park.

Day 5 – Sigiriya, Kandy

Rise early for a morning hike to the ruins of the rock fortress in Sigiriya. Built on the orders of King Kashyapa in the 5th century it is the exceptional architectural, artistic and engineering landmark of ancient Sri Lanka. Near vertical granite walls soar above the canopy of the rainforest to the ruins of an almost impregnable ancient fortified palace. Having scaled the vertiginous staircases attached to sheer rock walls, the rewards are unforgettable: spellbinding views of mist-wrapped forests, water gardens and cave shrines. Return to the hotel for breakfast before leaving for Kandy, arriving in the afternoon. Settle in to your bungalow surrounded by mountains, dinner in the hotel and in the evening enjoy a city tour with a visit to the Sacred Temple of Tooth followed by a Kandyan cultural dance performance. Stay at Mountbatten Bungalow, Kandy for 2 nights on half board basis.

Day 6 – Kandy, Geragama, Peradeniya

After breakfast discover the beautiful, historic city of Kandy before a visit to the tea factory in Geragama, one of Sri Lanka’s oldest. In the afternoon, depart for the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Garden. Established in 1812 it covers over 140 acres near the Mahaweli River, and hosts over 4,000 plant species from sub-tropical climates; the orchid collection is of particular note. Dinner in the hotel and evening at your leisure.

Day 7 – Kandy, Galle, Unawatuna

Morning departure to the southern coast and the town of Unawatuna, stopping at the city of Galle for a guided tour. Visit the striking fortress built by the Portuguese and Dutch in the 16th century, and as you walk along the streets you will notice the strong colonial influence of the Dutch and British, and mosques with Arabic touches. Continue to Unawatuna, check in to your beach hotel, enjoy dinner and a relaxing evening. Stay at Coco Bay, Unawatuna for 2 nights on half board basis.

Day 8 – Unawatuna

A day of independent exploration, or simply spend a relaxing day soaking up the sun on the palm-lined Unawatuna beach.

Day 9 – Return to the UK

Transfer to Colombo airport for your return flight to the UK. Breakfast included.



Things to do in Sri Lanka ...

Ah Sri Lanka, blissful beaches, scenic landscapes and luxury hotels that’ll make your heart swoon – this other-worldly paradise will open your eyes to the world in all its beauty. There’s no doubt that Sri Lanka holidays are simply one-of-a-kind, but what experiences should you seek out on your tropical escape? Well, there’s so much more to this paradise destination than just beaches. From whale watching trips to national park tours and deep-sea diving to adrenaline-pumping rock climbing; this ever-giving island offers something to all.

...for couples | ...with family | ...for honeymoons | ...for foodies

Things to do in Sri Lanka for couples

Float peacefully above the clouds gazing out at the beautiful ever-changing landscapes of Sri Lanka below. If you’re seeking a romantic activity to sweep your loved one (quite literally) off their feet, then a hot air balloon ride could be the perfect thing. Look out in awe as you drift over twinkling oceans, lush green forests and moving mountain hills. There’s nothing quite like it. Choose from sunrise, daytime or sunset packages and add that extra special touch to a holiday you’ll remember forever. Whether you choose day or night, one thing's for sure – this high-rise adventure will put love in the air.

Seeking a spot of culture from your Sri Lanka holiday? Then a journey to the Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple in the capital of Colombo is a great way to discover more about this incredible nation. Not only is the location of this spectacular temple truly mesmerising, but the architecture is beautiful too and inside the temple, there’s even more to see. Wander through the halls of worship, discover the hidden gems in the museum and take in the calming atmosphere – it’s a great way to learn more about life in Sri Lanka.

Things to do in Sri Lanka for families

Jet off on the family adventure of a lifetime, Sri Lanka holidays for families are full of excitement and there’s no better place to start than at the beach of course. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to beaches in Sri Lanka, but by far one of the most popular has to be Hikkaduwa Beach and it’s easy to see why. With beach shacks selling refreshing snacks, breezy palm trees and twinkling clear seas – this beach ticks pretty much all the boxes. Oh, and did we mention the giant sea turtles? There’s that too. Since the waves come crashing in here it’s also a great place for surfing and there are plenty of places you can rent a board or give a beginners lesson a go. So grab the whole gang for a beach day better than you’ve ever experienced before, both the little ones and the big ones are sure to love it!

For another fun-filled family day out, we’d recommend a boat safari along the Madu River. Bob along the river with the breeze in the air and take in the glorious surroundings from leafy palm trees to local temples and vast open waters. You’ll cruise along the waters discovering birds, fish and even alligators along your way. The little ones are sure to love this amazing tropical adventure.

Things to do in Sri Lanka for honeymoons

Sri Lanka has to be one of the most dreamy honeymoon holiday destinations, there’s simply no doubt about that. But if you want to add a little touch of magic to your special getaway, then we’ve got the perfect thing. Safaris have to be up there on the bucket list for many, and the Yala National Park in Tissamaharama offers just that. Hop in for the adventure of a lifetime and get up close and personal with some of the most stunning creatures on the planet. From elephants and leopards to huge lizards and fuzzy bears – this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity offers the chance to see these incredible species in their natural surroundings. Just like each other, it’s something you’ll treasure forever. What better way to celebrate with the one you love?

Things to do in Sri Lanka for foodies

If travelling to you is all about getting the taste buds tingling and discovering the delights of local cuisines, then there’s one place in Sri Lanka you simply have to visit. There’s no better way to get a true taste of the local flavours than at Galle Face Green. This part park, part beach stretch of town is a bubbly spot for an afternoon stroll and you’ll find many different street food vendors to choose from. Some must-try local eats include crunchy samosas, delicious curries and the ‘egg hopper’, which is a fried egg tucked inside a crispy pancake - it’s a hit with the locals and a must for all the foodies out there.



Sri Lanka Resorts

Bentota

Bentota

Home to a beautiful sandy strip of shore called Paradise Island

Matara

Matara

A bustling coastal city with so much to do

Tangalle

Tangalle

Where you can find tranquility on a sandy beach surrounded by palm trees


More reasons to book with us…

Book with confidence

Our flight-inclusive package holidays are financially protected with ATOL

Over 1.5 million

happy customers book with us every year

Pay in instalments

& spread the holiday cost up to four weeks before you fly

24/7 in-resort support

from our UK call centre